What’s a 529 Plan?

What's a 529 plan imageSaving for college can feel like an overwhelming task, especially since over the past decade, the average cost of college tuition has risen at more than double the rate of inflation. So, how do you prepare for this major expense? One of the more popular savings options is a 529 college savings plan, but what exactly is a 529 plan?

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged investment vehicle sponsored by a state or educational institution that is designed to help families put aside funds to pay for future college costs. It’s named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Because there are so many 529 plan options available, it’s important to understand all of the aspects of a 529 plan.

For help understanding what a 529 plan is and if it might be the right option for you, CLICK HERE to download the free ePaper I’ve put together, What’s a 529 Plan?

In this paper you will find information on:

  • The differences between a prepaid college tuition plan and 529 college savings plan
  • Federal, state, gift and estate tax advantages of a 529 plan
  • The impact of a 529 plan on financial aid
  • And, much more!

Planning for college expenses can feel overwhelming. Reach out to me to conduct a college savings analysis to determine if a 529 plan is a good option for you and your family and get tips on how you can be doing more to prepare for this major expense.

For more information on getting your college needs analysis, email me at valerie@grinkmeyerleonard.com. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

Source: The College Board, Trends in College Pricing 2014

College Needs Analysis REVISED

What Does College Really Cost?

College Really Cost Image for Landing PageWith everyone settling down in the back-to-school routine, now is good time to think about your family’s future education plans. Do you want to help your child pay for college? Do you want cover all expenses or only pay for tuition? Do you know how much college really costs? Here’s a look at some of the numbers:

College Expenses
For the 2017-2018 school year in Alabama, public in-state tuition and fees averaged $6,288! And, tuition at larger universities like Alabama or Auburn can be as much as $10,500.

Many schools include the following expenses in their published costs for attendance, but the real numbers can vary significantly.

  • Books and supplies – In Alabama, books average $1,393 yearly. Most colleges provide estimates of this cost.
  • Room and board – Living costs including dorm or apartment costs, water, electricity/gas, cable, Internet, phone, groceries, snacks, and dining out averaged $10,440 nationally for the 2016-2017 school year.
  • Personal expenses and transportation – This category includes everything from clothing, laundry, toiletries, and entertainment, and the tab can add up quickly. Don’t forget to add in the cost for travel between home and campus for the weekends, vacations, and semester breaks. Consider how often your child will make the trip home and what mode of transportation will be used (bus, train, plane, or car). For the 2016-2017 academic year, the national average for personal expenses at a four-year public college was $3,270.

Pre-College Expenses – Even before kids enroll, college costs start adding up

  • Testing – High school students usually take at least one test for college admission, such as the SAT, ACT, or Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Because test results are an important part of the admissions process, students may opt to take an exam more than once to improve their scores. Plan on at least $200 in testing fees.
  • Test preparation – To gear up for college admissions tests, students may want or need to take preparation courses, which can run into the thousands of dollars for classroom instruction. Online exam prep courses typically cost less. Many who tout increased score results offer to reimburse you if scores don’t actually improve.
  • Application fees – Submitting an application typically costs around $50 and there is a growing list of schools that have a $75 application fee. Given that The College Board recommends that most students apply to between 5 and 8 colleges, these fees can amount to several hundred dollars.

Planning for college expenses can feel overwhelming. Now is the time to conduct a college savings analysis to determine whether you are saving enough and get tips on how you can be doing more to prepare for this major expense. For more information on getting your college needs analysis, email me at valerie@grinkmeyerleonard.com I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

Sources: https://www.collegetuitioncompare.com/compare/tables/?state=AL
https://www.wellsfargo.com/financial-education/college/how-much-college-costs/